Metaphors and similes are an imaginative galaxy which greater minds than mine have explored. That doesn’t stop me gathering dazzling and original examples to enliven human exchange, expanding the choice of vigorous, beautiful ways to sharpen how we think, read, write and speak.

Like Monday morning

Like Monday morning

What adjective might you liken to Monday morning? Something real, cool, and solid lies before you; something unromantic as Monday morning, when all who have work wake with the consciousness that they must rise and betake themselves thereto. You can imagine a lover...

Thoughts like …

Thoughts like …

A sorrowful image of a tired soul, feeling isolated. As her stray ideas returned slowly, each folding its weak wings on the mind's sad shore, like birds exhausted - beholding void, and perceiving silence round her, she believed herself alone. A touching image, of...

As bland as …

As bland as …

Bronte packs a threesome of metaphors into her description of Mr. Sympson, starting with his continuing blandness, then turning to his pin-sitting agitation, and round off with his griddle-stepping hen-gait. For a day or two Mr. Sympson continued as bland as oil, but...

As sweet as …

As sweet as …

A tasty alternative to the standard simile 'as sweet as pie' or 'as sweet as honey'. Feel free to use this sunny image, here describing a sweetened temper, though I never quite understood the idea that a quarrel can put people in a better mood; they always caused me...

An aristocratic air-head

An aristocratic air-head

What great company the Count must have been!  A simile for an empty mind only occasionally polluted by the presence of a passing, pointless thought, flying across its vacant space. And little Count Sternberg, through whose brain thoughts would shoot one at a time like...

Street cleaning

Street cleaning

A graphic description of a drunkard preparing for his next binge with a water shot. Major Prohaska ordered soda water.  Anyone who knew him well could predict that he would get very drunk tonight.  He simply used water to clear the way for liquor, the way streets are...

Someday the history of metaphor will be written and we shall at last grasp all the truths and misconceptions in which this intensely speculative subject abounds.  

Source: Jorge Luis Borges, On Writing, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2010, p. 45

A cord of connection

Here Mr. Rochester conveys his connection to Jane Eyre and the vulnerability it causes inside.  Attachment made physical.

'... it is as if I had a string somewhere under my...

Beloved Sir Benjamin

The old, fat, warm-hearted cousin of the young heroine.  Both Merryweathers, he of the sun type, she of the moon. She's an orphan and he takes her under his wing,...

Vigorous and well-preserved

A surprising way to describe an old man's forehead, having the roundness and roughness of an oyster shell.  Or might it be alluding to the sand-polished inside smoothness of the...

As motionless as …

I have tried to think of standard similes for stillness, and 'statue' is an obvious one, here morphed into a figurehead.

Source: Patrick Leigh Fermor, Mani: Travels in the Southern...

As smooth as …

Of course, this simile is obvious when you see it, but have you ever seen it before?  Please try incorporating it into your simile-store.

'Over fall he slid, smooth as...

Pruning exuberance, corroding hope

Borges uses two incisive metaphors to create the effect of some Irish writing on English letters.

'(Irish writers) … made deep incursions into the territory of English letters, pruning all...

As known to me as…

Two in one here, both unfamiliar ways of describing something familiar.  Wood knots, if you live with them, do become known to you - I am getting to know those...

Books lost and gained

In Leigh Fermor's enchanting walk across Europe, he find islands of great hospitality where he can rest and recuperate from intermittently roughing it.  Remote aristocratic homes which he intimates were...

Stars like apples

Distant stars appearing so close you could reach up your hand and pick them, like apples in a tree.  One of many lyrical descriptions in Golding's 1955 Good-bye to Ithaca,...

As blue and as vague as …

A beautiful image, blueness and vagueness likened to 'unmapped lakes', and these, referring to eyes, being misted over with the (over) consumption of plum-brandy.  And those 'tundra-blank' faces!

'Swamp-and-conifer men...

Looking good

The poor old boy, pallid and wan, in stark and merciless juxtaposition to the ruddy picture of health and well-being, Sir James.  'Skinned over for the occasion', beat that.

Dancing light, rippling reflections

Having occasionally lain in bed practically hypnotised by the dappling and dancing of light bouncing from water up to ceiling, I liked Hoban's reference to flashes of mystic writing, like...

How many lifetimes does it take to learn the facts of life?  

(And how long do you have to live to recover from them…?) 

Is it fact that helps us recover – or is it metaphor?  

Source: Molly Peacock,The Paper Garden (London: Bloomsbury, 2012), p. 63 – click here for the bestellar review of this glorious book.

The thinker, with his metaphors, will illuminate the external world through intangible ideas that for him are intimate and immediate.   

Source: Jorge Luis Borges, On Writing, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2010, p. 6

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